The Labrador Retriever

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The labrador and the crossbred labrador are amongst the most popular dogs in the UK.  The pure bred version stands at around 21.5 to 22.5 ins (54cm to 57cm), and weighs around 55 to 75lb (25 to 34k).  This puts them in the large category for competition.

The breed is also fondly known as the stomach on legs and anyone who has had anything to do with labradors and their crosses will know why.  It is because of their love of food that it can be hard to keep their weight down but at least you won't have any problems motivating the dog with titbits.

The labrador is generally very even tempered and they make good family pets.  They are intelligent and faithful and once they've got past the adolescent stage and grown up a bit they have a strong will to please.  All this makes the labrador a good candidate for an agility dog.  Their jumping style is different to a collie.  They tend to be more rounded and they don't flatten out so much.  Sometimes they can look as if they're a bit on the slow side but when you check the time you'll find that the speed is deceptive.  I used to run Jamie in pairs with a labrador.  The highest we ever got was fifth place but Max was always steady and reliable on his rounds and I don't remember him ever knocking a pole or mucking up the weave.

Grooming the lab is easy as the coat is nice and short but they are gundogs and they do love to swim.  You are likely to end up with a wet dog lab more than a dry lab on your walks.
 

Pictured here is Lucy, a wonderful family pet
who visited us for years and stayed with us
 when her mum and dad went away.

 

 

On the right is Jamie's friend Lizzie, a labrador terrier cross.  Lizzie would just make it into the large height category.  I thought she would be borderline medium but she was a quarter of an inch too tall.  Lizzie can be wilful but she is generally obedient and easy to handle.  She can be very energetic and she is fearless.  She would make a good agility dog.

There is one book that every lab lover must read and that's Marley and me: Life and love with the world's worst dog by John Grogan.  I found this book totally engaging and just couldn't put it down.  There are ninety six 5 star reviews on Amazon and to quote a couple of extracts:
"The story is charming, beautiful, about life, family, your place in this world, about what is important, and all because of one loopy Labrador."

"This book is a joy to read, Anyone who loves dogs and has cared for them as puppy and adults can identify totally with the author."

"This is a loveable enjoyable story as we see how a completely mad dog changed and took part in John and Jennys start in life together."
 

For those of you who like to collect labrador things and read about labs here's a selection of books and collectables.  Further down the page you'll find lots of useful comments from lab people.  More dog products can be found in the Agility Bits Doggie Shop.

Labrador people check out this great new site.  It's thoroughly enjoyable.

Comments:

Kate Alderman (Labrador/dalmation):
Mollie has been a challenge to train and probably a better bet for an experienced handler. However, she is motivated and really fast and when it goes well it's fantastic.

Lab/Terrier:
He's only two. Got loads of enthusiasm (and speed) but little concentration. I hope this improves as he matures.

Lab Owner:
My labrador is absolutely fabulous and loves all the treats!!! I have only done some basic training with him in the garden but he catches on pretty quickly, he is also the best companion dog and the best friend I've ever had! I would recommend a labrador to anyone.

I Love my Dog:
I have had a yellow lab for a year now and she is georgious

Archies mum :
I retired my golden lab 2 years ago (hes nearly 11!) and he LOVED agility. His fastest round at my club was 28.6 seconds - faster than the collie! Reccomend them to anyone! They are incredibly intelligent and need to be stimulated!

Alison :
Will do anything for a treat, loves all aspects of agility.

Rayanne(2 black Labs):
I'm currently training my male Lab in agility and plan to compete in May. He is super fast! He can do 8 weave poles in 2 seconds! I have a hard time keeping up, but I can't wait to start trialing with him. My female is possibly show quality so I'm thinking of showing her. If that doesn't turn out then I might trial her in Rally. She's sort of a spaz, so keeping her focused is a major challenge. I just love Labs and they're definitely the breed for me!

Stevie:
I really love my dog Asbo. He is about 1 yr old he is lovely lol, he loves kids as well. He's a really good guard dog thanks lol

Kayla.cool Baugh:
My labrador is crazy , nice, and loves to chew socks. I have another dog named Tony (A hound mix).

Ali:
My 5 year old chocolate lab starting competing in agility shows at the beginning of last year. She loves it, after a few eliminations for running her own courses we got our first clear round and were placed 3rd, not bad for a class of 150 dogs (mainly border collies), at the next show we came first, it was one of my proudest moments to take a lab up to the presentation tent to collect my rosette. I would recommend it to any lab owners, they love the fun, speed and attention (& the treats).

Ricky:
I have just picked my first time own labrador, it's black, and very cute :-) I am very very excited. Still having problems deciding a name.

David Wright:
Refering to the comment about over-eating. I did find a sort of solution to my lab's over indulgence, by adding a substantial amount of "bran", bought in bulk, mixed in to his daily food. This ensured that he was satisfied, but did not add weight to the dog.

Ray (Labrador/collie):
My dog is actually a Flyball Dog (International/BFA flyball, rather than the KC variety). He is currently running under 4.7s over 11" jumps, which is pretty fast. If I could get him to do a proper "Swimmers' Turn" rather than his labrador pounce on the box he'd be around the 4.3s mark, putting him among the fastest dogs in the country! I've done an introduction to Agility course with him, which he loved. He's also loves swimming and DockDogs where he's been measured at 14 feet and Dash'n'Splash where he managed around 16'6". I would definitely recommend this cross to a first-time dog owner over a pure collie. We have some first-time owners with collies at our flyball club and it is clear that they really don't know what they've taken on. When training a collie X lab you need to be two steps ahead of the dog - with a collie, you need to be about 5 steps ahead - which is a tall order if you are learning this for the first time yourself!

Andrea:
we have 2 labs, a black one and a golden one, both beautiful and both intelligent. The black one, a girl, sometimes warns us when my daughter ,who is epileptic is going to have a seizure.

Labrador handler:
I train mainly for working trials, agility is a bit of summer fun, but it must be remembered that labs need to be fit not fat and needs lots!!!! of exercise

Cecile:
Hi I am interested in what type of terrier that "Lizzie" is as a labrador cross. I just lost my best pal and son "little man" who was 95% labrador appearance but with the same thick shag on the back as Lizzie and some gorgeous wiry chin hairs like terriers have! He was truly more handsome than any purebred lab as he was leaner and had a giant boofy head. I would like a lab cross again eventually when I get over losing my boy and am wondering what cross I should look out for RIP little man.

Pat comments: Cecile, I'm so sorry you've lost your friend.  We all know how awful it is.  I've found that it helps to bring another dog into the house who really needs your love and attention, but different people learn to cope in different ways.  Lizzie came from a rescue centre and they didn't know her exact breeding.  She's quite a bit smaller than a labrador, being only seventeen and a half inches at the shoulder.  She has a bit of a whiskery face which could come from something like a border terrier, and her coat is more wiry than a labrador coat.  She belongs to a friend's mother and is an ideal companion for her.

Labrador fan:
I love my labrador but he eats everything in sight. He is a very big boy! can anyone
help??
Pat comments: This is why labradors are known as stomachs on legs.  They do eat anything and everything.  A very nice man who ran our local pet shop for years and years told me once that he feeds his labrador one tin of Denes food every day and nothing else.  No biscuit, no titbits, no nothing.  It's hard for a dog that loves food but he will be healthier for it.  If you can distract your dog with toys then this will help when you're out.  You need to get the dog hooked on a special toy and use it for distraction purposes.  As he gets slimmer he'll get much more playful and this will become easier.

Sukh
Labrador is a great dog because I own it he is very intelligent hears my voice quickly. He is the best dog I have met

Pooja:
Labs are darling......love them....

Cassie::e:
Labs are very nice and calm they are very good with everyone and like my dog Katie they are very good at showing and obedience. I love Labs they are very good with just about anyone.

Karen:
Just started my 18mth old Black lab at agility and he's loving it! Doing the complete control bit at the moment and he sits (well, hovers) with tail wagging frantically waiting for the command "over" at every jump. Loves the tunnel and getting more confident on the dog walk. Fastest in the class for our first little course too!

Jackie Hart (Lab/beagle):
Jasper loved the training classes & hopes that there is an agility course when we
go to the charity dog shows throughout the year.

Travis:
We have two Jack Russell/Yellow Lab crosses. They are siblings and the most awesome dogs. Sara has more of the Jack traits, while Sam has more of the Lab traits in him. They are awesome with kids and very protective of the family and the home.

Becca:
My dog is very good, however sometimes labradors can get a bit boistrous and may need a bit of calming down.

H Holland:
Labs are great, until they become deaf..???? Try calling a lab and they do not even point their ears backwards to let you know you have been heard, but open a packet of crisps and they can hear you 2 miles away.

Merrill:
 I've watched the agility competitions on Animal Planet and it looks like a fun sport. My dogs will need lots of exercise and mental stimulation.We have two four month old female littermates. They love going to the South Padre Island on the weekends to chase the waves and swim. My e-mail is merrillfay@yahoo.com. I would like to find other people in the Rio Grande Valley who are involved in agility.

Joanna (JRT/ Labrador cross):
Hi, I noticed that you said you hadn't come across a large Jack Russell cross, well I have a Labrador Jack Russell cross who is 12 weeks old and at the moment looks like a mini yellow lab. She seems to have quite a lively terrier temperament and although is going through a pretty bad nippy phase is very quick to train.

Becky (Labrador flatcoat cross)
Licking is the problem!  Speed is the problem, as you have to think fast.  Mine is always a step ahead, but is easily trainable with a ball, and get out the food treats, and whoosh!  Only problem with that is he tends to look for them.

Denise says of her lab collie cross:
I would most definitely choose the black lab cross again.

Freya writes about her Labrador:

She is a Labrador, however, she is a working strain so a bit whizzier than usual, is very good at agility as long as she doesn't have to do it too often or she gets bored.  Also lots of bribes are required to keep her running well.  Other than that she is very reliable and better at agility than me.  Freya would recommend this type of dog for agility but wouldn't choose a lab for agility again. 

Further comments received on a labrador cross:
"She's very fast.  Does not make a noise while competing.  Big jump."

Comments from other respondents to the survey:

"They seem easy to train, but some can have a wider build, mine luckily is a slimmer build!!" (lab/collie)

and on the Labradog Kathy Williams says:

"Only drawback with a Labradog is an excess of enthusiasm - and you have to run at top speed to keep up...."

Both of these respondents would recommend this type of dog for agility.

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